An oil and vinegar tasting bar opened last summer in Nisswa Square, where customers actually get to taste the products before buying them.
Lois Hensel opened Loide’ Oils and Vinegars on June 30. “Loide,” pronounced “loh-EE-deh,” is Italian for “Lois.” Hensel and her husband, Steve, first experienced an oil and vinegar store in Fort Collins, Colo. They didn’t want to taste vinegar, but went into the store, tasted samples and were hooked.
“The fun part is, people think this is just for salads,” Lois Hensel said. “There’s lots of uses for it.”
They educate customers on different ways to use oils and vinegars so they understand they’re not limited to just one use. The products can add a blast of flavor to any type of food — meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, breads, ice cream and in water for added flavor. After asking customers what they like to cook and eat, the Hensels can suggest oil and vinegar flavor combinations, which the customers can then taste at the store to make sure they like it.
To name just a few, balsamic flavors include maple, dark chocolate, cinnamon-pear and cranberry-pear. Oils include black truffle, chipotle, butter and lemon. Customers are encouraged to experiment with endless combinations.
Grand View Lodge uses some Loide’ products in restaurant menus.
Hensel said the region where her oils originate changes every six months. While oils currently are from the southern hemisphere, soon the inventory will switch to the northern hemisphere.
“So we’re always carrying the freshest product,” she said.
All of the store’s balsamic vinegars are imported from Modena, Italy.
The couple is from St. Michael and has had a home on North Long Lake for four years, with plans to settle here permanently. Loide’ Oils and Vinegars is a family business. The Hensels’ three sons and two daughters-in-law also lend helping hands. All three sons are in the Army National Guard, and Loide’ proudly offers a military discount.
Lois Hensel always wanted to own her own business, but with small children didn’t want to take the risk. Last January, after having frequently worked 65- to 70-hour weeks at a construction firm for years, Hensel called her husband from work and asked what he thought about an oil and vinegar store in Nisswa.
“And he said, ‘Absolutely,’” Hensel said.
So she started doing research on the concept, reading books and researching suppliers and franchises. The supplier she chose has a contract with 4,500 farmers throughout the world who sell exclusively to that supplier. The Hensels ordered bottles and fustis — stainless steel containers for oils and vinegars.
“We bottle fresh here,” Hensel said. “Everything’s bottled fresh in the store and we seal it.”
The store sells 50 varieties of extra virgin olive oil, as well as oils from around the world; fused and infused olive oils; gourmet truffle, seed and nut oils; and aged balsamic vinegars. Loide’ also has pasta, sauces and seasonings; gluten and dairy free chocolate; Olivella bath and body; gift bags and boxes, gift baskets and gift cards.
With three bottle sizes, prices range from $12-$33 for oils and vinegars, $17-$38 for 18-year aged, and $21-$42 for gourmet, truffle, walnut, almond and sesame.
“If I can get people to taste it, the product sells itself,” Hensel said, referring to the products’ quality and freshness.
Hensel plans to be open seven days a week through New Year’s, and then may close Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She wants to accommodate local residents, so will stay open until 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through December.